– China has launched the second module of its space station
The craft, named Wentian, was launched by a rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on Sunday, according to footage from state broadcaster CCTV.
China launched the second of three modules of its space station under construction on Sunday, according to live footage from state broadcaster CCTV.
Weighing about 20 tonnes, Wentian was launched without an astronaut by a Long March 5B rocket at 2:22 pm (8:22 am in Switzerland) from the Wenchang launch pad on the tropical island of Hainan (in the south). )
The nearly 18-meter-long and 4.2-meter-diameter lab module will be attached to the station’s first module, Tianhe, which has already been in orbit since April 2021. This operation is challenging for the crew as it requires many high precision manipulations. Some of them with robotic arms.
Along with three sleeping areas, toilets and a kitchen, the new lab block also has cupboards for science experiments. Vendion will also serve as a backup base to control the space station in case of failure.
Named the Chinese Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”), but also known by its acronym CSS (“Chinese Space Station”), the space station should be fully operational by the end of this year.
After this weekend’s Wendian, three astronauts from the Shenzhou-14 mission currently on the space station will host another laboratory module, Mengdian, in October. The station will have its final T-shaped shape, similar in size to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station. Its lifespan should be at least 10 years.
China has been investing billions of euros in its space program for decades. The Asian giant sent its first astronaut into space in 2003.
In 2019, the country landed a device on the far side of the moon, a world first. In 2020, China brought back samples from the moon, and next year landed a small robot on Mars. China also plans to land humans on the moon by 2030.